America’s Jeff Van Wagenen became the fifth first-time winner on this season’s European Seniors Tour when he led from start to finish to win the Tui Seniors Championship at the new Fleesensee Golf and Country Club in northern Germany.
Van Wagenen, 56, from Pasadena, California, won the £19,992 first prize when he closed with a level par 73 to finish on eleven under par 208, one shot ahead of England’s Tommy Horton and Australia’s Noel Ratcliffe.
Throughout the round both Horton, who closed with a 67, and Ratcliffe, who recorded a 69, put pressure on the American but he refused to crumble, even after the 16th where he misjudged his yardage to the green and recorded a bogey that cut his lead to one.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “Going out with a four-shot lead, I knew I had to play conservatively but, for a while at least, I thought it was going to be touch and go particularly when I made that mistake on the 16th..
“Fortunately, however, I managed to hang on. I’m delighted. This is by far the biggest title I’ve ever won and I plan to celebrate it in style.”
England’s Tommy Horton, who went into the Tui event lying in sixth place on the Tour’s Order of Merit improved his chances of winning his fifth successive title with his closing 69 that hoisted him from seventh place into a share of second.
But for the moment at least, Horton will have to play second fiddle to Ratcliffe, winner of the recent Scotsman Scottish Seniors Open at Dalmahoy, because the Australian’s share of second place was enough to hoist him above the absent Christy O’Connor Jnr into first place on the money list.
Albania’s Agim Bardha, who was once Liberace’s hairdresser, won the £500 First National Super Seniors prize, awarded to the leading competitor over 60, when he closed with a two under par 71 that gave him a share of fourth place on 210.